Tuesday, November 21, 2017
News Roundup

New allegations surface in case against Jim Greer

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TALLAHASSEE — Allegations of a golf cart filled with prostitutes at a party in the Bahamas surfaced Friday in the criminal case against former Florida GOP Party Chairman Jim Greer.

Delmar Johnson, a former GOP official who is testifying against Greer in return for immunity from prosecution, described the women June 15 as he was questioned under oath by Greer's lawyer.

Johnson was asked to describe events at a 2009 gathering in the Bahamas, scheduled as a thank you party for men only. Those attending included then-Gov. Charlie Crist, lobbyist Brian Ballard and GOP finance chair Harry Sargeant, among others.

Johnson said he presumed the women were prostitutes but provided no details of what occurred. He also said Greer asked him to introduce him to some airline stewardesses but he declined.

The questions came from Damon Chase, a Lake Mary lawyer who represents Greer on criminal fraud charges brought by a statewide grand jury in 2010. He is scheduled to face trial in February.

The Bahamas trip and the women have become a salacious sidelight in the case against Greer as lawyers for some of the men who attended the event battle to keep details of it out of the public eye.

Chase's questions focused primarily on Victory Strategies, a business Greer established with Johnson to handle party fundraising. Johnson says Greer wanted to be a silent partner and kept his name off of corporate documents.

The company is at the heart of the criminal charges against the former chairman.

Johnson said Greer created the company and asked him to become the only named official on company documents. Victory Strategies was to collect 10 percent of all money raised by the party and the two men would divide the profits with Greer collecting 60 percent, Johnson said.

Several witnesses interviewed by investigators say Greer had a number of meetings for men only and refused to allow women to attend unless they were "paid.''

A Florida Department of Law Enforcement report describing the Bahamas event was declared a public record by Orlando Judge Marc Lubet in July but has remained sealed while lawyers appeal his ruling to the 5th District Court of Appeal.

The lawyers who are appealing say they are trying to protect "interested persons'' who could be damaged by the contents of the report. They have refused to identify the clients who hired them.

Ballard and Sargeant have signed affidavits supporting Greer's version of events surrounding the decision to turn party fundraising over to Victory Strategies.

Crist insists that he did not know Greer would personally benefit from the fundraising contract but Ballard and Sargeant say the governor knew of Greer's involvement.

A lawyer for Crist has accused Greer and Chase of possible witness tampering, saying Chase tried to get the former governor to change his testimony or face embarrassing disclosures about his personal life. Crist says Greer and his attorney are "delusional.''

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